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What We Learned: Minnesota Golden Gophers 75, Purdue Boilermakers 73

What can we learn from Minnesota’s win over Purdue?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Minnesota David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers advanced on to a semifinal game against Michigan behind 27 points from Jordan Murphy and 21 by Amir Coffey. Sophomore Matt Haarms paced the Boilermakers with 16 points.

Purdue battled back from a double-figure second half deficit to take a 71-69 lead with 3:40 to go, but could only score two points the rest of the way. It is Purdue’s second loss of the season to Minnesota, something that happened with no other team.

Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from the game.

Carsen Edwards Is Not Right

BTN’s Andy Katz dropped a bomb in the middle of the broadcast that Purdue star Carsen Edwards was suffering from a tweaked back for over a week. Katz explained that Edwards was feeling the effects of his back tweak in the game and was receiving stretching treatment throughout the game. Edwards visibly appeared in pain as he limped off the court at the end of the first half, and grimaced throughout the game.

Did this have a demonstrable impact on his performance? Probably. Edwards has struggled with his shot (except in the home Ohio State game) for the better part of a month, so his 4-17 performance falls into line with some of the struggles he’s been dealing with. But, it certainly appeared that Edwards was visibly bothered by the injury throughout the game.

Purdue will hope that Edwards is able to get rest and strength in time for their first NCAA Tournament game on Thursday or Friday.

Jordan Murphy Could Do Anything He Wanted

Murphy was awesome for Minnesota last night.

The senior forward played 38 minutes and scored 27 points on 10-19 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. Minnesota gave him the ball towards the top of the key and let him punish Purdue on drives, passes, and shear forced maneuvers around the basket. It was fun to watch, and Purdue didn’t have an answer for it.

Will Minnesota go with the same strategy against Michigan? The Wolverines are a little better equipped to handle Murphy’s abilities, but he’s had two nice games against Michigan this season. It will be interesting to see how he looks in his third game in as many days, but Murphy being a force in the lane will be a part of any Minnesota path to victory.

Purdue experienced this the hard way on Friday evening.

Minnesota’s Style Of Play Exposes Purdue

The game preview mentioned it, but Minnesota’s style is kryptonite to Purdue in a few ways.

The first is transitional play. Minnesota loves to push the ball and catch the defense late in getting back. The Gophers killed the Boilermakers with this in the first half. It allowed for Minnesota to rack up nine fast break points and shoot 63 percent from the field.

The second is its multiple, talented, athletic bigs. Purdue loves to bring a hard double in the post to put the big in an uncomfortable position of having to make a sometimes hurried play. This didn’t really work against Minnesota. True, it forced three turnovers out of Daniel Oturu, but Murphy was perfectly comfortable in maneuvering around the double-team and either scoring or finding the open man.

The third way is Minnesota’s length and athleticism. This seemed to bother Purdue on the perimeter. A staple of Purdue’s offense is the three-pointer. Both Edwards and Ryan Cline each have made 100 three-pointers this season. No other Big Ten team can say that. Minnesota, who has been inconsistent on defense this season, was able to use its athleticism to annoy Purdue into 6-24 shooting from three. In the three games against Minnesota this season, Purdue has shot 23-79 (29 percent) from three. When Purdue is not making shots, they are very beatable. Minnesota has shown that twice this season. Will Purdue run into a team in the first round with a similar style?

What’s Next?

Minnesota plays Michigan on Saturday in the late afternoon game for a chance to go to the Big Ten Tournament title game. With that victory over Purdue, Minnesota shouldn’t have to worry at all on Selection Sunday.

Purdue will await word on where they will play next week. An intriguing question answered Sunday will be whether the Boilermakers are a 3 or 4-seed? Much of their competition there lost (LSU, Texas Tech, Kansas State) in their respective tournaments, but there are still potential 4-seed teams (Wisconsin, Kansas, Florida State) in conference tournaments. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.